Popular belief in the power of witchcraft survived in Brittany, as elsewhere in France, deep into the last century but the spells and curses of the witch were often as benign as they were malignant.
Born into an illustrious and wealthy family, accomplished knight and brother-in-arms to Joan of Arc, Gilles de Rais, was appointed Marshall of France at the age of just 25 but his meteoric rise was matched by a ghastly fall. He is best remembered today as probably one of the most depraved and prolific serial killers in history whose shrine was, for centuries, a site of pilgrimage for expectant mothers.
In the Brittany of yesteryear, there was a dearth of doctors in the rural areas and when one could be found, his services were not always affordable to the local populace. Traditional healing treatments were therefore widely used; one of the local healers most commonly consulted was the Bonesetter.
A quick overview of the festival known as Mardi Gras in Brittany; an event still popularly celebrated in this part of France.
Witchcraft in Brittany.
Home to more hiking trails than any other part of France, many of Brittany’s ancient pilgrimage routes can still be experienced today, including stages of the Camino de Santiago and the Pilgrimage of the Seven Saints, offering travellers a chance to discover the country and connect with the past and themselves.
The Phantom Washerwomen of the Night stand out as one of the most striking and baleful characters in the rich folklore of Brittany; spectral women doomed to spend eternity labouring over their laundry from sunset to sunrise, terrifying unfortunate souls in the darkness.
A brief glimpse into some Christmas traditions from the Brittany of yesteryear.
An echo of the region’s Celtic past, sacred springs were commonplace throughout Brittany with miraculous qualities attributed to many and were an important part of daily life even after the Catholic counter-reformation.
One of the most commonly found creatures in the rich canon of Breton folklore are the korrigans; a race of capricious and contradictory magical dwarves.